Russell to substitute Hamilton, Aitken to race for Williams

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Mercedes has confirmed that Williams driver George Russell would replace Lewis Hamilton at this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix while Jack Aitken would step in to drive for the Grove-based team.

Mercedes confirmed yesterday that Lewis Hamilton tested positive for the Covid-19 which ruled him out of participating at this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix. Apart from mild symptoms, the seven-time world champion is well and fit, but he has to self-isolate according to the Covid-19 protocols in Bahrain.

The Brackley-based team spent yesterday to find the right replacement for Hamilton with reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne in the first place. However, the outfit was keen to give Williams racer George Russell the chance of driving for the outfit and therefore it opened talks with the Grove-based squad borrowing the Briton.

Mercedes has now confirmed that King’s Lynn-born driver would substitute Hamilton at Round 16 of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Commenting on the announcement, George Russell said:“Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to everybody at Williams for giving me this opportunity. I might be wearing a different race suit this weekend, but I’m a Williams driver and I’ll be cheering my team on every step of the way.

"I see this as a great chance to learn from the best outfit on the grid right now and to come back as an improved driver, with even more energy and experience to help push Williams further up the grid. A big thank you also to Mercedes for putting their faith in me.

"Obviously, nobody can replace Lewis, but I'll give my all for the team in his absence from the moment I step in the car. Most importantly, I wish him a speedy recovery. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity and can’t wait to get out on track this week.”

At the same time, Williams also announced that its third driver Jack Aitken would replace Russell. The 25-year-old London-born driver currently competes in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, driving for Campos Racing. As the F2 series would also race this weekend, it means that he would miss the season finale of Formula One's main feeder series.

Jack Aitken commented: “I’m absolutely over the moon to have the opportunity to make my debut with Williams this coming weekend and I am extremely happy for George to have his chance too! I really mean it when I say I’ve felt very much at home here since I joined Williams earlier this year, so to get my chance to help the team try to achieve that elusive points finish is an extremely satisfying occasion to say the least.

„I’ll be doing all I can to prepare in the coming days, but truthfully, I feel like I have been ready since Melbourne. I also want to wish Lewis well in his recovery, and good luck to George getting the chance to drive the Mercedes this weekend.”

Acting Team Principal, Simon Roberts added: “Our long-term partnership and George’s affiliation with Mercedes is no secret, and so I’m delighted George has this unique opportunity to join Mercedes, the current Constructors’ Champions.

„We have been working hard to ensure that an agreement could be made with Mercedes to allow him this fantastic opportunity. George very much remains a Williams driver and we look forward to him returning to us fresh from this experience and wish him a successful race this weekend,” Roberts said.